Mindanao's "Week of Peace" Focuses on Family

Closing Event Draws an Interreligious Crowd

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KIDAPAWAN, Philippines, DEC. 2, 2004 (Zenit.org).- More than 3,000 people — Muslims, Christians and Lumad natives — gathered for the closing of the Week of Peace, on the troubled island of Mindanao.

The initiative, held on the important island of the southern Philippines, was organized by Christian bishops and Muslim leaders.

On Wednesday, a march, torch procession and appeal for peace marked the end of this weeklong event. The procession began at Our Lady Mediatrix of All Graces Cathedral, and ended in the main square of Kidapawan.

The participants committed themselves to take a concrete testimony of peace to their home communities. The 6th Week of Peace, organized by the Bishop-Ulema Forum, focused on the theme «A Reconciled Family, Agent of Reconciliation.»

Referring to this year’s theme, the Christian and Muslim leaders agreed that «the family is the fundamental cell of society.»

«Many families, Christian, Muslim and native, have been affected by the conflicts that have occurred over the last years in Mindanao,» the leaders said in a document, quoted by the Fides agency. «We have always promoted reconciliation, taught in the Bible and the Koran, which can be achieved through sincere forgiveness.»

Bishop Romulo Valles, 53, addressed the final ceremony and appealed to parents to be an example to their children and take peace to their homes. «Peace begins with your family,» he said. «I ask the parents here present to be agents of peace in their families and communities.»

The celebrations this year took place at a delicate time for the peace process in the region. After a cease-fire pact signed last July, the government and the largest Muslim guerrilla movement, the Moorish Front for Islamic Liberation, have still not officially resumed talks.

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